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Let me here quote a few sentences from an article by Dr. J. M. Rice, which appeared in the July issue of the "Forum” magazine, and which may be made valuable as suggesting a basis from which efforts for amelioration should proceed. He writes: "That the mode of teaching in vogue, in our progressive, as in our non-progressive, schools, is distined to cultivate the memory rather than the power to reason, is proved alone by the fact that, in the subjects particularly adapted to appeal to the reasoning faculties-the so-called thought studies,-the pupil is required to obtain his ideas by reading the text-book in advance of the recitation. If it be the teacher's aim to lead the child to think, it is necessary for her to apply the principle that the child must be told nothing that he is able to find out for himself. To compel the child to study the lesson from the text-book in advance of the recitation, is to violate this principle in toto, because by this means he is directly told by the text-book every point that he might be able to reason out for himself. In order properly to apply the principle, it is necessary to bring the new matter before the pupil for the first time during the recitation period. It is then, and then only, that the teacher is enabled, by means of skilful questioning, to lead the child to find out for himself whatever it is possible for him to discover. Facts that the child is unable to discover must be told to him by the teacher. Simply to hear children recite lessons that they have committed to memory is a very easy matter, and requires no expert knowledge or skill, but, by means of questions, to lead the child to think, involves both science and art." * * * "True instruction will not be obtained until the teacher is substituted for the text-book, as it is then only that the principles of teaching can be properly applied. To suggest the removal of the text-book, without recommending anything in its stead, might justly be regarded as destructive criticism; but surely no one can construe my remarks in this light when I offer as a substitute, the teacher herself."


As a logical outcome of the defect which has been described, we have the mischievous system of periodical examinations, which in the main serve the purpose of according underserved glory to that pupil whose memory has stood the heaviest surfeit. Many of us have doubtless observed that the keen sense of having suffered an injustice at a school examination is one of those experiences which

cause many a sensitive pupil to carry through life a feeling of rankling resentment.

The plea of an interested spectator on this point accordingly is, that you do not waste time and energy unduly in loading the minds of your pupils with a mass of dates, names and episodes which they will certainly forget in a few years at most. We have doubtless in our school days at some time committed to memory the names of all the Governors and Intendants of New France and the number of settlers who perished of scurvy or small-pox at Stadacona in the first winters in which that fort was inhabited by Europeans. Do any of us, who are not teachers of Canadian History, remember those things now? And if we did remember them still, of what advantage would it be to us? You will surely be greater benefactors of your country and its youth if you succeed in having your pupils educated so as to be able to read from a newspaper or book taken at random, so that listeners can hear without discomfort and understand without effort, and so that the pupils will be able to give clear expression to a narrative either in the form of oral statement or of written composition or letter writing. When a farmer in the country finds it necessary to send a letter, his thirteen year old boy or girl should have learned enough at school to be able to write the letter for him, and when it happens that he requires something to be done at the village, his boy should have acquired sufficient power of observation and expression to be able to make a tradesman understand clearly what is wanted. You are not bound hard and fast to communicate nothing to your pupils except what you can get out of books. Indeed, as a wholesome breach in mechanical routine, it would be a benefit to your pupils and perhaps a blessing to their parents if you could prevail upon the children to read the newspapers aloud from time to time both in school and at their homes. Even if it be not provided for in the course of study, such a practice of dealing with what is of public interest in the world from day to day as events are happening would create an interest in the practice itself, and would, in a secondary way, give rise to a faculty for conversation and expression of the great importance of which we are apt to lose sight.

Writers of note have often insisted upon the importance. of what has just been pointed out. There are to be found

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in the Spectator a series of letters contributed by Mr. "Budgell," early in the last century, in which we find language such as the following: "To this end, whenever they read the lives and actions of such men as have been famous in their generation, it should not be thought enough to make them barely understand so many Greek or Latin sentences; but they should be asked their opinion of such an action or saying, and obliged to give their reasons why they take it to be good or bad." "To carry this thought yet further, I shall submit it to your consideration, whether, instead of a theme or copy of verses, which are the usual exercises, as they are called in the school phrase, it would not be more proper that a boy should be tasked, once or twice a week, to write down his opinion of such persons and things as occur to him by his reading; that he should discant upon the actions of Turnus or Æneas; show wherein they excelled or were defective; censure or approve any particular action; observe how it might have been carried to a greater degree of perfection, and how it exceeded or fell short of another."

"I have heard of a good man who used at certain times to give his scholars six-pence a-piece, that they might tell him the next day how they had employed it. The third part was always to be laid out in charity, and every boy was blamed, or commended, as he could make it appear he had chosen a fit object." (Letter No. 337.)

In the same volume we find the writer addressing himself to another phase of the subject, as follows: "I take the liberty to send you a fourth letter upon the education of youth. In my last I gave you my thoughts upon some particular tasks, which I conceived it might not be amiss. to mix with their usual exercises in order to give them an early seasoning of virtue: I shall in this propose some others, which I fancy might contribute to give them a right turn for the world and enable them to make their way in it. "The design of learning is, as I take it, either to render a man an agreeable companion to himself, and teach him to support solitude with pleasure; or, if he is not born to an estate, to supply that defect, and furnish him with the means. of acquiring one.

"The fault...... of grammar schools is that every boy is pushed on to works of genius; whereas it would be far more advantageous for the greatest part of them to be taught such

little practical arts and sciences as do not require any great share of parts to be master of them, and yet may, come often into play during the course of a man's life.

"While I am upon this subject, I cannot forbear mentioning a particular which is of use in every station of life, and which methinks, every master should teach scholars; I mean the writing of English letters. To this end, instead of perplexing them with Latin epistles, themes and verses, there might be a punctual correspondence established between two boys, who might act in any imaginary parts of business, or be allowed sometimes to give a range to their own fancies, and communicate to each other whatever trifles they thought fit, provided neither of them ever failed at the appointed time to answer his correspondent's letter. I believe I may venture to affirm that the generality of boys would find themselves more advantaged by this custom, when they come to be men, than by all the Greek and Latin their masters can teach them in seven or eight years. The want of it is very visible in many learned persons, who while, they are admiring the styles of Demosthenes or Cicero, want phrases to express themselves on the most common occasions. I have seen a letter from one of these Latin orators which would have been deservedly laughed at by a common attorney." (Letter No. 353.)

Doubtless a difficulty, which made itself so apparent as to be thus criticized over one hundred and eighty years ago and which exists still, is one to overcome which strenuous effort is needed.

To an association of teachers it is perhaps unnecessary to quote from Herbert Spencer, though it may be encouraging to observe that he writes as if the defective method had in a measure become a thing of the past. Amongst much other matter to the same purpose he writes: "The once universal practice of learning by rote, is daily falling more into discredit. All modern authorities condemn the old mechanical way of teaching the alphabet. The multiplication table is now frequently taught experimentally. In the acquirement of languages, the grammar-school plan is being superseded by plans based on the spontaneous process followed by the child in gaining its mother tongue. Describing the methods then used, the Reports on the Training School at Battersea' say-The instruction in the whole preparatory course is chiefly oral, and is illustrated as much

as possible by appeals to nature.' And so throughout. The rote-system, like other systems of its age, made more of the forms and symbols than of the things symbolized. To repeat the words correctly was everything; to understand their meaning nothing; and thus the spirit was sacrificed to the letter. It is at length perceived, that in this case as in others, such a result is not accidental but necessarythat in proportion as there is attention to the signs, there must be inattention to the things signified, or that, as Montaigne long ago said-Sçavoir par cœur n'est pas sçavoir." (Education, page 103.)

I have urged upon you the desirability of not allowing the whole sphere of your teaching work to be filled and bounded by any officially prescribed programme of study. You should rule and administer your course of study instead of letting yourselves be ruled by it. It has also been suggested that pupils should practise reading aloud from books or papers selected at random. Your course of study prescribes conversation with pupils and exercises in composition by them, and I would venture to suggest that you double the time usually allotted to these exercises by a corresponding diminution in the time devoted to memory work.

Next, as a further stimulus to powers of observation and expression, I suggest the expediency of your taking your pupils out of doors and of having them observe and discuss objects in nature, animals and plants, seasons and processes of growth and decay. The keeping of young children in school-rooms from nine o'clock in the forenoon until halfpast three or four o'clock in the afternoon, except during dinner and recess intermissions, savors of cruelty and tends to make them dull and taciturn, so that double benefit would result from a little open air instruction. Moreover children are quick at learning to improve their powers of observation in the way suggested. I am convinced that boys from the rural localities outstrip city bred boys in commercial pursuits-a commonly noted fact-mainly because they have formed a habit of mentally taking note of everything about them, a practice not easily followed in cities. We may congratulate ourselves that the introducduction of Kindergarten instruction is operating a great amelioration in methods of imparting knowledge.

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